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Android tablets set to wrest throne from iPad in 2013

Sorry, Apple, the tablet market is beginning to look more like a democracy.

For the first time, more tablets are expected to ship this year with Android innards instead of an Apple core.

Apple's iPad is under attack from countless directions by an Android army that's finally catching up to the one-time undisputed sovereign of slates.

A forecast released this week from market researcher IDC predicts that 49 percent of all tablets shipped this year will run Android. This means that -- for the first time -- Google's OS will control a higher percentage of the market than Apple's iOS, which IDC projects will run 46 percent of all tablets shipped. Windows and Windows RT tablets combined will make up less than 5 percent of tablets shipped.

Last year, more than half of all tablets shipped were iPads, a level of popularity usually reserved only for leftist Latin American leaders and Honey Boo Boo.

All good things come to an end. And in most cases, those good things are first copied and imitated endlessly until someone or something actually improves upon the original.

This is where we are with the iPad. It's actually still debatable whether or not any tablet has added major innovations to the form factor that Apple popularized -- I would submit that the Nexus 7 was the first to get the smaller tablet right -- but just Android's presence as an alternative and open tablet OS has created choice and driven down the cost of tablets, which is actually a major improvement in the market.

The point is that this milestone was inevitable, and if anything, it's remarkable and a testament to Apple that iOS still hangs on to such a huge chunk of the market.

More interesting is that IDC predicts that not only has the iPad's share of the market likely peaked, but so has Android's. The firm predicts that both will see their percentages shrink by a few points in 2017, while Windows will double its share to around 10 percent of total tablets.

And thus, a more democratic tablet world was born.